76ers

Four possible candidates to fill Sixers' vacant two-way spot after Shake Milton receives NBA deal

Four possible candidates to fill Sixers' vacant two-way spot after Shake Milton receives NBA deal

CAMDEN, N.J. — If you have any doubts about whether players on two-way contracts matter or have value to a team, look no further than Shake Milton.

The Sixers signed the 22-year-old combo guard to a four-year NBA deal Tuesday after Milton impressed them by both starring in the G League and playing with poise when he received NBA minutes as a rookie. 

With Milton called up and possibly in contention for backup point guard minutes this season, Norvel Pelle signed to a two-way deal and Haywood Highsmith waived, the team has one vacant two-way spot.

As a reminder, teams can have a maximum of two players under two-way contracts, in addition to a maximum of 15 players on the active roster. Players signed to two-way contracts can spend up to 45 days in a season with their NBA team and are not eligible to participate in the playoffs.

Here are four candidates: 

Marial Shayok 

Shooting will likely be the 6-foot-6 Shayok’s signature skill in the NBA. The 54th pick in this year’s draft, Shayok averaged 18.7 points and 4.9 rebounds as a redshirt senior at Iowa State and shot 38.6 percent from three-point range on 5.4 attempts per game, a substantial jump in production from his first three seasons in college at Virginia. He recognizes that his jumper is his easiest pathway toward contributing for the Sixers.

“I’ve always been a scorer and have developed my shot as years have gone by,” Shayok told NBC Sports Philadelphia on Wednesday. “I really just simplified my game, knowing that teams need shooting; I really wanted to work on that, especially the past two years at Iowa State.”

Shayok worked alongside Milton in several drills during the Sixers’ summer league minicamp, which ran through Monday through Wednesday. 

The 23-year-old comes across as polished and professional in his approach, though he admitted Monday that being on an NBA team is “surreal still.” 

He said he hasn’t yet been given an indication of whether he’ll be on the NBA roster or receive a two-way contract.

“I have not,” he said. “I’m really just taking it a day at a time. Trying to get better, trying to be a sponge and whatever happens, happens. You've just got to try to win the day.”

Shayok, if he doesn't get an NBA deal this season, is the logical choice to take Milton’s spot.

Christ Koumadje

If the Sixers want to lean into their new identity as a big, long, defensively-oriented team, Koumadje might make sense as a two-way player. 

The 7-foot-4 Koumadje is aiming to be the first NBA player from the country of Chad. He’d surpass Boban Marjanovic as the tallest player currently in the league.

Koumadje impressed Sixers senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley with his defense and agility at a pre-draft workout on June 7. 

Connor Johnson, the head coach of the Delaware Blue Coats and the Sixers’ summer league team this year, named Koumadje on Tuesday as a player who’s caught his attention.

“I would say Koumadje, as a rim protector,” he said. “Going against Norvel, that’s been a great battle. … It’s been good to watch both those guys.”

With Pelle already occupying a two-way spot, giving another center in Koumadje the other two-way would be an unorthodox choice. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Blue Coats targeted him early in the G League draft. 

Terry Harris 

With Tobias Harris set to be a Sixer for at least five more years, would the team add another Harris brother to the organization?

Terry Harris played at three colleges and posted 8.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting 41.1 percent from three-point territory last season at North Carolina A&T.

Perhaps, if he can convince the Sixers that his outside shooting is an elite skill, he’ll earn a two-way slot. Harris certainly has a clean, smooth and quick release with deep range, though he acknowledged Tuesday he’ll need to prove he can hold his own defensively in summer league, which begins Friday for the Sixers. 

He’s thought plenty about playing with his older brother again for the first time since he was in eighth grade.

“Obviously it’s in the back of our heads,” he said. “If that could happen, I know we would both love it. I would love it. If that could happen, it would be a blessing. So hopefully, one day.”

PJ Dozier 

The 6-foot-6 Dozier didn’t receive a qualifying offer this summer from the Celtics, making him an unrestricted free agent. 

Though he’s played only eight NBA games in two seasons, Dozier has strong G-League credentials. He averaged 21 points per game last year for the Maine Red Claws and was named Third-Team All-G League. 

Dozier’s shooting is the weakest part of his offensive game (31.2 percent from three-point range, 66.8 percent from the foul line in 2018-19), but he’s shown a knack for scoring and looks to have the length and athleticism to play defense in the NBA.

Though Shayok seems like the reasonable favorite, Dozier could be someone who takes the open two-way spot with a strong performance in summer league if Shayok ends up being signed to the Sixers’ roster. 

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Ben Simmons puts on early show, Joel Embiid comes on late as Team LeBron beats Team Giannis in NBA All-Star Game

Ben Simmons puts on early show, Joel Embiid comes on late as Team LeBron beats Team Giannis in NBA All-Star Game

The Sixers were well represented by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago Sunday.

Ultimately, Team LeBron won a thrilling — well, at least the fourth quarter was — game over Team Giannis, 157-155, on an Anthony Davis free throw. Kawhi Leonard won the newly named Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award scoring a game-high 30 points.

Embiid, playing without the splint on his left hand for the first time since having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ring finger, got Team Giannis on the board with an early dunk.

Then Simmons put on a show.

Simmons had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists in the first half.

The NBA decided to break away from its traditional game format, making each quarter its own mini-game. That means each period had its own tip-off.

And would you look at who was squaring off to start the second.

(Simmons won the tip, by the way)

Not to be outdone, Embiid had a couple fancy dunks of his own as Team Giannis built a lead in the third.

Simmons also had this beauty of a put-back dunk for good measure.

He took a spill at the end but appeared no worse for wear for the rest of the game.

Another wrinkle in the new format this year is that the fourth quarter wasn’t timed, and the teams played to a “target score.” In honor of Kobe Bryant, the “target score” was 157 — 24 more points than what Team Giannis, who was in the lead, had total heading into the fourth quarter.

With Team Giannis nearing that point total, Embiid made his presence felt down the stretch, including dropping this nasty Dream Shake on LeBron James.

Both Embiid (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Simmons (17 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals) showed why they were selected for the game.

They’ll return to the court for the Sixers Thursday against the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Are the Sixers still a Finals contender?

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NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: Are the Sixers still a Finals contender?

The Sixers are off to a solid start for any team, but the Sixers were built to be a championship contender. Danny Pommells and Anthony Gilbert discuss that and who will take up the open role in the starting lineup on this edition of Sixers Talk, presented by Wilmington University.

• Are the Sixers still a Finals contender? (2:00)

• Who will move into the starters lineup in place of Al Horford? (6:34)

• Did the Sixers miss on the trade deadline? (10:31)

• This team lacks veteran leadership (20:42)

• Story time with Anthony Gilbert (29:03)

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